National Bowel Cancer Screening Program's Information Booklet


Page last updated: 26 January 2020 (this page is generated automatically and reflects updates to other content within the website)

In Australia about one in 19 men and one in 28 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 751. This is one of the highest rates in the world. In 2009 about 14,410 new cases of bowel cancer were diagnosed and in 2010 approximately 4,000 people died from the disease2. This makes bowel cancer the second most common cause of cancer-related death after lung cancer.

The good news is that bowel cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer, if found early. If the cancer is detected before it has spread beyond the bowel, the chance of surviving for at least five years after diagnosis is 90 per cent3. Early detection offers the best hope of reducing the number of Australians who die each year from bowel cancer.

This booklet tells you the main facts about bowel cancer, about a simple screening test, called a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), that you can do at home and about follow-up tests used to look for changes in your bowel, including cancer. It also tells you about how you can reduce your risk of getting bowel cancer by completing the free screening test that you have been sent.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registeries 2012. Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2012. Cancer series no. 74. Cat. No. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW
2 ibid.
3 Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services, Colorectal Cancer Screening: A report of the Australian Health Technology Advisory Committee, Canberra, Canberra, 1997, p 11.